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Training, Development & Retention

HR Compliance and Employee Engagement: Two sides of the same coin?

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You are proud your company is now “fully compliant”.  So, what?  Any HR compliance expert that assures you that basic compliance efforts are enough to keep a company out of trouble and its employees productive would undoubtedly, be lying to you.

 Employee engagement is a major concern for any company that wants to minimize waste and maximize profit.  Research indicates that there is an established correlation between engagement and profit.

 Business organizations with higher levels of employee engagement financially outperform businesses with low engagement levels and have higher levels of productivity and lower turnover.  Research shows that:

  • share prices of organizations with highly engaged employees rose by an average of 16% compared with an industry average of 6% (Sirota 2005).
  • highly engaged employees outperform their disengaged colleagues by 20-28% (Conference Board, 2006).
  • when managers are disengaged, their employees are over three times as likely to be disengaged and 33% more likely to be frustrated with the company (Sirota 2009).

Ok… so you have not given much thought to employee engagement.  How dangerous can this be for your company?  When considering the costs (both real costs, such as time taken to select and recruit a replacement, and also opportunity costs, such as lost productivity), the cost of turnover to a company has been estimated to be up to 150% of the employees' remuneration package. (Schlesinger, Leonard A.; James L. Heskett (1991-04-15). "Breaking the Cycle of Failure in Services". MIT Sloan Management Review 33 (3): 17–28. Retrieved 2009-01-21.)

 Depending on how unique the position to be replaced is and its rank in the company, employee turnover could conceivably cost your company even more, not including other intangibles such as low morale, employee resentment and bad publicity.  So, while you may be thinking it was a good idea Bob left the company, how much did it cost you? What if you had taken a little interest in him?  What if… you had you just made an effort to engage him, learn about him and made a real person to person connection with him?  What if ... you had invested in him-just a little-by sending him out to take a course he wanted to take or offered him a few hours of management coaching?

 A good effort on your part could have been to conduct an attitudinal survey for your employees and see what it revealed.  Caution here: if you decide to undertake this type of effort to find out information, be prepared to follow through with an appropriate intervention, otherwise, the morale of your employees will suffer.  Let’s go along.  Let’s say you find that managers and employees feel there is a lack of trust with the management, feel overworked without recognition and trapped in their jobs.  What’s the next step?

 You can consider addressing the issues by making them feel they are important to your organizations.  After all, they are important!  You can hold monthly open meetings to improve the dialogue, vetn out issues and give employees a feeling of connection.  You may consider enhancing their leadership skills, by bringing a leadership coach to work individually with your employees and managers or in teams.  Two of the leading indicators of employee engagement, according to Gallop, as shown in their Q12 Employee Engagement Survey are: "There is someone at work who encourages my development" and "This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow."  It is a fact that investing in the personal development of employees matter a lot.  In these hard economic times, employees, including managers, may be feeling unsure of their performance, the value they bring to the company and may be afraid of losing their jobs.

 When you pay attention-in a productive manner-to an employee, they get a sense of hope, encouragement and confidence because they sense someone is investing in them.  When this happens, your effort translates into engagement, productive and dedicated performance and ultimately, revenue.  Relying solely on compliance efforts to feel you are “covered” and insulated from risk and loss in misguided.  Rather than allowing employees to leave your company and seek greener pastures, or arguably, worse: allowing the employee to become disengaged and resigned, you need to consider your alternatives. Employees matter.  They need to be nurtured as people first.



 Conchita Franco Serri, Ed.M., J.D., is a management consultant with over eighteen years of experience specializing in executive and leadership and Human Resources compliance for businesses and academia. She obtained a master’s in education from Harvard University, a law degree from Boston College Law School, and is a Certified Mediator.

Conchita specializes in devising corporate solutions that involve a blend HR compliance efforts with employee engagement, including executive coaching efforts from an ontological base, helping executives understand their internal reality as well as the external one by processing Cognizant Meta-Awareness™.

Conchita is Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Palo Alto, California.   She is also a Co-Founder of The Global Women’s Leadership Network at Santa Clara University Leavy School of Business (  Conchita is President of Serri Compliance Training ( and Principal of Becker Serri Consultants (

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